Oppn leaders discuss 2024 poll strategy at dinner hosted by Sibal

Updated on Aug 10, 2021 05:52 AM IST

At least 20 of the so-called “G-23” group of leaders, who wrote a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year asking for an overhaul in the party organisation, were present at the dinner, as was former finance minister P Chidambaram.

TMC leader Derek O’Brien arrives at Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s residence on Monday. (ANI)
TMC leader Derek O’Brien arrives at Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s residence on Monday. (ANI)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Top Opposition leaders gathered at Congress member of parliament (MP) Kapil Sibal’s residence on Monday evening and informally discussed how they could work together ahead of the next general elections in 2024 to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), according to three people who attended the event.

The leaders were called for a dinner a day after Sibal’s 73th birthday.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and leader Praful Patel, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Pinaki Misra, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Derek O’Brien and Kalyan Banerjee, National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah, Samajwadi Pary (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) Tiruchi Siva, and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad attended the event.

At least 20 of the so-called “G-23” group of leaders, who wrote a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last year asking for an overhaul in the party organisation, were present at the dinner, as was former finance minister P Chidambaram.

One person who attended the dinner said all leaders focused on things that the parties could work on together ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and also spoke about the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, scheduled in early 2022, as being the first challenge to the BJP.

“We should aim for a one-on-one contest in 2024,’’ Pawar told the gathering, according to this person.

The NCP chief backed an election strategy of fielding a united Opposition candidate to take on the BJP in a particular constituency, and cited the coalition government in Maharashtra as proof that Opposition forces could coalesce. “Who would have thought that the NCP, Congress and Sena can work together?’’ he said. Raut agreed, saying Maharashtra had been able to show how new experiements can work in alliances.

O’Brien talked about following the example of West Bengal, where the TMC managed to defeat the BJP after a acrimonious, high-voltage campaign. “Today is the 100th day since Mamata Banerjee defeated the BJP,’’ he said, according to a second person present at the event.

Yechury pointed out to all the attendees that Sibal’s home at 8, Teen Murti Lane was where former Communist Party of India(Marxist) leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet lived.

Surjeet was known as one of the principal architects of the United Front government in the 90s and also for his role in bringing together the Congress and Left together to form the United Progressive Alliance, which formed the government in 2004.“This is where it all happened so I think it is an auspicious beginning,’’ said Yechury.

A surprise inclusion was that of Pinaki Misra, who told the gathering that the BJD was fighting the BJP in Odisha, according to a third person who attended the event.

A member of the G-23 group who didn’t want to be identified said many Opposition leaders commended them. Congress MP and one of the signatories to the letter to Gandhi, Manish Tewari, talked about the need for the Opposition to come together to “keep the idea of India alive’’, said the third person quoted above.

Sibal explained how the G 23’s push was to ensure that these ideas kept the “ball rolling’’ on democracy. “’If you can strengthen the Congress, then you’ll be strengthening the entire Opposition.’’ Abdullah told Sibal, according to this person.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sunetra Choudhury is the National Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. With over two decades of experience in print and television, she has authored Black Warrant (Roli,2019), Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous (Roli,2017) and Braking News (Hachette, 2010). Sunetra is the recipient of the Red Ink award in journalism in 2016 and Mary Morgan Hewett award in 2018.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, September 26, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals